Puerco Pibil, A dish to die for ♥

Puerco Pibil

I’m in love with a new dish. It came to me unceremoniously, written in hand, on a scrap of paper. It was very nondescript and so therefore I tucked it into a “safe” place for another day. The other day arrived, a couple of weeks ago, two years later.

I was leafing through the “Pork” recipe folder and there it was. The time had come. I prepared it and then baked it for HOURS! While it was baking the house filled with a smell that could lure the dead out of their graves. I was positively slobbering every time I lovingly stirred it. By the time dinner came and we pulled this masterpiece out of the oven, we literally could not wait another second to eat this dish.

Once on our plates and in our mouths, we were not disappointed. Way far from it, the flavors exploded on our taste buds and set us into a fit of moans. Now I knew why Johnny Depp was killing people over it in the movie, “Once upon a time in Mexico.” It is that good. I should of suspected it, the friend that had slipped me the recipe is a marvelous cook and she would not give me something that was less than fabulous. The only question was why oh why had I waited so long to make it??

But, in my defense I have been making up for lost time and have made this recipe three times since, twice with pork and once with a beef roast. It is all fantastic. Do yourself a giant favor and make this now. Not later…now.

The dish, Puerco Pibil, is a slow roasted pork dish that hails from the Yucatan peninsula. Traditionally this pork dish was done in a pit wrapped in banana leaves. Yeah, not going to happen in the rainy Northwest but crock pots seems to work fine. In fact that is one of the great things about this dish is that it is slow roasting so is perfect to toss in the crock pot for a busy day.

One of the spices I added is smoked paprika which is my very favorite spice these days. Now, if you have never had smoked paprika, prepare to be taken over. It seems to wind up in everything, unbeknownst to me. My hand just seems to grab that tin with the cute little dahlias on it and make red sprinkles on everything. (In fact, I have a fantastic spice rub featuring smoked paprika coming soon for grill season.)

Annatto seeds are a traditional spice from the Yucatan (which you can get from Penzeys), BUT there is no way in god’s little green acres to grind these suckers up unless you have an industrial tool. I suggest buying the seeds already ground and called “achiote molido” available at Latin grocery stores or online. But I found you can make it with chili powder and it seemed to turn out just fine. (I’m sure the traditionalist would groan over that!) El Pato enchilada sauce is an amazing sauce that has only wholesome ingredients in it.

Puerco Pibil

Puerco Pibil

Spice blend
3 teaspoons of smoked paprika
5 Tablespoons of achiote molido
OR 2 tablespoons of chili powder
2 teaspoons of cumin
1 tablespoon of ground black pepper
½ teaspoon of allspice
½ teaspoon of cloves

The rest of the ingredients
A 5 pound pork butt cut into 2 inch squares
¼ cup of orange juice
¼ cup of lime juice
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, minced
1 16 oz can of crushed tomatoes, no salt
1 28 oz can of El Pato red enchilada sauce
1-2 chipotle chilies minced fine
Splash of tequila

First off, mix the spices together in a small bowl then turn on the oven to 325 degrees or your crockpot on low. Add the pork butt to your pot of choice, either the crock pot or an oven sturdy casserole dish. In a big bowl, mix all the other ingredients together with the spices, then pour over the meat.

Cover tightly and bake for 4 hours in the oven stirring when you can’t stand it anymore. (a few times) Or slow cook in the crock pot for 5-6 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. Enjoy this luscious paleo dish over mashed sweet potatoes and a few avocado slices if you like or on it’s own with a lively salad on the side. (For the pictures I added 2 cut up sweet potatoes to the Puerco pibil the last ½ hour it baked).


  1. says

    Saw this on Chowstalker, looks great! I’ve been wanting to try this ever since I saw the movie Once Upon a Time in Mexico- Johnny Depp had a puerco pibil so delicious he went in the kitchen and shot the chef!

    • ziabaki says

      Oh my gosh! I’d forgotten about that! Thanks for reminding me. I’ll have to watch that part again. Crazy movie. Hopefully you won’t shoot anybody when you make it, cause it is that good! Happy fourth!

  2. says

    I’m almost afraid to try any dish that might cause me to want to commit homocide. However, this looks pretty tasty, I don’t own a gun and the chef in this case would be me. I’m going to give this a shot!

  3. Beth C says

    Sounds delicious — any ideas what to sub for pork though? Very new to Paleo and new to eating meats other than chicken or turkey. Would beef work? What cut? Thanks!

    • ziabaki says

      I’ve made it with beef stew meat before and it was wonderful! So just use a tough piece of meat like the brisket, flank steak or a shoulder roast. You can also just buy “stew meat” at some butcher shops. Go for that if you have a choice. Welcome to the Paleo way!

  4. says

    I’m all over this buuuuut… Id on’t live anywhere that knows what an enchilada IS, let alone sells ready-made sauce. Any substitution ideas? Would plain tomato sauce be too plain? We’re having a rainy July and I think that stewed meat would hit the spot on a wet-sock day.

    • ziabaki says

      I know about rainy Julys! We live on the North Oregon coast and we get plenty of those! Yes, you could just use the can of tomatoes and a small can of tomato paste. In fact the original recipe doesn’t call for enchilada sauce, that is my addition. The ground annatto seeds are easy to get on line and add a nice depth to the dish, which I think you’d enjoy. Thanks for coming by!

      • Ana says

        I am Mexican so Puerco Pibil is a traditional recipe and was surprise when I read the ingredients and called for Enchilada sauce and tomato sauce, whoever I would love to try your recipe, since I started the Paleo style I can’t eat tortillas so the solution was to eat the meat in a Cabbage leave with some radishes on top and some red onions with lime, you can also substitute the pork for chicken and is awesome! Thanks for posting this recipe!!

  5. says

    What an awesome and interesting dish! I’ve never had anything like it and would really love to try it out. Serving it over mashed sweet potatoes with avocado on top sounds amazing!! I’m definitely putting this on the top of the list.

  6. cereal says

    The extra ingredients (enchilada sauce, tomatoes etc) make this very unlike how it’s done in the Yucatan other than the slow cooking. Probably delicious though!

    Note, if you want to grind your annato seeds, it is possible! just soak them for an hour or overnight in the acid you are using for the sauce (seville orange juice, lime/orange, grapefruit, vinegar etc). This will make them soft and crushable in a grinder or with mortar & pestle (just be careful with the wet mixture, as annato stains!)

    • ziabaki says

      I know. There are some very “American” ingredients in there for sure. I have never have a authentic Puerco Pibil, isn’t that sad? I’d love to try one! Great advise on the annato seeds! Thank you so much! I was wondering what the secret was. Thanks for stopping by. 😀


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